- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 8, 2001

I wish to respond to the April 1 letter to the editor “Drug laws create youth drug market,” from Robert Sharpe of the Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation.

It has been 15 years since the cocaine-related death of my son 15 years without seeing his face, hearing his laughter or watching him grow into manhood. During those 15 years, I have learned that it´s not just the dealers we have to be wary of, it´s those who promote drug use as a personal right, the drug-policy reformers. Drug-policy reformers and drug dealers, just like the tobacco industry, have always targeted adolescents and young adults for recruits. Marijuana smoke, however, has far more carcinogens and toxins than tobacco. No one has been admitted to a hospital for smoking one tobacco cigarette, but marijuana is a leading cause of drug-related emergency-room episodes. There can be no doubt that if marijuana were used by society as freely as tobacco, the medical consequences would be far greater.

Those promoting the legalization of psychoactive and addictive substances speciously claim that current drug policy has been unable to stop drug use and trafficking, so drugs should be legalized. That is as ludicrous as demanding that child abuse and rape should be legalized because they cannot be eradicated, either. The fact is that society needs to try harder. The first step would be to expose the true agenda of such organizations as the Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation, whose two parts have long advocated the legalization of drugs, and especially marijuana, for personal recreational use. In fact, Harvard Medical School psychiatry professor Lester Grinspoon, one of the most outspoken of the “medical” marijuana advocates, still claims that cocaine is harmless if used in moderation. Yet it was a “trace” of cocaine that triggered the cardiac arrest that took our son´s life.

As for doctors deciding what´s best for their patients, there are doctors who, through incompetence, personal use of addictive drugs or lack of conscience, do great harm to their patients under the guise of treatment. Failing or refusing to provide the best treatment possible for a patient should be cause for removal of a physician´s license. Recommending unproven, illicit substances in place of scientifically proven therapeutic drugs would fall in that category. Coddling and abetting bad behavior only makes it worse, something every parent and teacher knows to be true. The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation would have us believe otherwise.


SANDRA S. BENNETT

Director

Northwest Center for Health & Safety

LaCenter, Wash.

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